Wittenberg, Part I

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:32 AM

The Rev. Doug Matthews sat in his office chair intently studying the computer screen that glowed in front of him. Rose leaned in the door way and sighed. “You're not working on that again, are you, Pastor Doug?”

He nodded slowly and turned in his chair, which produced an uncomfortable squeak. “I'm only going to be here for a few more minutes. Go home — it's past five as it is.”

Rose studied him uncomfortably. “It's just, I don't like you staying here all hours of the night. If I leave before you finish, your liable to stay here late into the night. Come on, Doug,” she said, a little firmer than she had intended.

Doug smiled. “Just a few more minutes, really. You can go, I won't stay past 6:00. I promise.” Rose waved a hand at him and walked off to get her coat. She was a dedicated secretary, perhaps a bit overzealous about his bad habit of staying in the office late, but that was for his own good, he knew. He heard the main office door open and then shut. Good, now he could finish.

He turned back to the text he had brought up onto his screen. Something seemed different about this passage. He leaned closer, taking his glasses off to get a better view. His mind went blank for a moment, and then the realization struck him. This was it. There it was, right in front of him. He spun around in his chair so hard it nearly sent him onto the floor; he dashed up and grabbed his coat in one fluid motion. If he was right, this was it — after nearly fifteen years, he had found it. And not a moment too soon. He had to move quickly.

He raced out of his office into the reception area but stopped when he heard an odd sound. It sounded like someone was sawing something. The power went out, turning the room an eerie amberish color as the emergency lighting sprang into action. Doug's mind whirled as he realized what was going on. It all makes sense — I have to get out of here. Someone else was in the building — that much he was certain of — probably down by the main circuit breaker box in the basement, if the sawing noises had given any indication.

He raced for the door and ran out into the cold, rainy mid-winter night. As he ran to his car, he flipped open his cell phone and called the police. He had no time to waste, but leaving the church to the devices of whoever it was that had broken in was not prudent. He hastily reported the information on the intruder and slammed the phone shut to the protestations that he shouldn't leave. Time was short, and much as he might like to stay, it simply was not an option.

Doug Matthews sped off into the dark wet night with a sinking feeling. He just hoped he'd still be capable of having a sinking feeling in a few hours.

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